Thursday, 26 November 2009

The embargo is dead - long live 24 hour news

It was a big day in Liverpool today as the government returned its long awaited (much too long awaited) decision on whether Everton FC can move to Kirkby.

As you would expect, the Liverpool Daily Post and Liverpool Echo were all over the story.  The implications for the decision were massive for two camps:
  1. Everton and its fans
  2. The residents of Kirkby.  
That's a lot of people, making it a massive story.

So there was a lot riding on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government John Denham's decision.

Although the deadline for the decision was Friday, our man in Parliament had been given the nod that an announcement would come Thursday with the official report released at 9am.

Richard Down, the reporter who has done a fantastic job covering the story since before the public inquiry was primed and awaiting whether Everton had got a 'Yay', or a 'Nay'.

 Nothing could be said, because of the age old straight jacket - the embargo.

But then at shortly before 7pm, whether intentionally or not, Sky played a blinder.  They released on the ticker on the Sky News channel that Everton had been given the go-ahead.

I'm using my imagination a little here, but I'm picturing some Malcolm Tucker character at the Department for Communities blowing a four-lettered gasket.

Shortly afterwards, and never wrong for long, Sky's ticker announced that Everton's Destination Kirkby application had been rejected.

Then along came the flood as Twitter became alive with talk of Sky's exclusive.

And although within minutes LDPE had a much better offering, with a full story online, no one remembers who was the second person to run the four minute mile.

So, my point is this ...

Are the days of the embargo numbered?

How many times have you seen articles which are being stored per some embargo agreement, leaked.

With 24 hour news and the likes of Twitter and Facebook, can news really be bottled?


Mike Nolan said...

There's a number of tech news websites who now refuse to observe embargos.

Kevin Matthews said...

I think they've got it right.

But then does that put at risk any relationships with agencies who want their news items released at a given time?

Dilyan said...

Apart from financial news, where the time of release has implications for asset prices, and from crime investigations, where it could alert offenders, I can see no reason for information to be embargoed. Certainly not when it is about a football club moving somewhere. What would happen if that embargo were broken? Would people take to the streets if surprised at the wrong time? It is pointless.

David Higgerson said...

I don't think the point about embargoes has ever been about the reaction of readers/users/viewers if they found out about it at a different time. Embargoes have been about managing the time of information release to best suit the person releasing it - often someone who wants to manage news for maximum impact/benefit for the organisation they are representing. Up until now, members of traditional media has always resented embargoes (apart from when they've been given some sort of leg up on a story thanks to the embargo) and it has always been quite common for embargoes to be broken. Embargoes aren't pointless, at least not to PRs or people who wish to manage information. They just aren't helpful.
I can't understand the logic of getting a story wrong to force the lifting of an embargo. Certainly, if regional media tried it on such important stories, they'd suffer massively in terms of reputation, but perhaps on a 24-hour news channel, where news by its nature changes rapidly, that's not such an issue.